Thursday, December 08, 2005

Yay! Something to do!

I knew there was a reason why I spent my waking hours over at Notes.Net LDD IBM Lotus developerWorks. Not that there have been huge numbers of waking hours for the last little while, but that situation has been improving lately. Improving slowly, but improving nonetheless. I can put in some time working now -- I just don't know what time of day I'll be able to do it quite yet.

Seems there's an entire application niche that's been missed out along the way, and it falls right into line with the rest of the suite I have been busy with. The difference is that this go-round, there's somebody waiting for the application. I'm up against a tight deadline and some fierce non-Notes competition, but I have written most of the component bits for the application already. I'd just never quite gotten around to realising that they could fit together that particular way. If I didn't have the bits and pieces lying around, there'd be no way to get this done in time, but given what I have, the time I've given myself is conservative enough that I can tolerate a day or two lost to my back. I just have to get on my case right away so I don't lose that cushion.

That's a big part of the problem I've been facing with this development thing. I'm technically competent (or so I keep telling myself), but my life experience has been almost entirely outside of the business sphere. So far, I have been an in-house guy -- somebody gives me a set of requirements, and I build what they ask for. Note I didn't say I build what they want.

There have been darned few instances where I've actually been able to contribute anything to the application's fundamental design. If the requirements are confused, I'll build a wonderfully well-written but unusable and completely inappropriate application. Exactly what the customer ordered. Well, you want to know something? Sometimes the customers don't really know what they want until they see it -- they want a Labrador Retriever, but in the process of describing fur, water, a general leg count and some kind of duck association, they actually spec a platypus. I've built quite a few platypi. There's not a lot in fixing and fuelling airplanes, teaching math or even shining shoes that would make a body intuit common business processes.

This new application, along with the rest of the suite, are unashamedly ripped-off from applications that exist elsewhere, adapted to Notes and Domino. With tricky bits and shiny things thrown in. I figure that if somebody's already paying for this stuff, and paying handsomely, it must be useful. And you know, I'm starting to feel a lot better about that now.


Karen said...

Yay! Um... I think. It's all kinda' sketchy right now. You've got something developed, and might have more to add to it, and someone wants it, and you think you have time...

Go, er, get 'em? Sure, okay. That.
Congratulations, and good luck with it. Whatever that is.. that... thing you're talking about. (laugh)

Stan Rogers said...

/me chortles with pleasure

It's actually a bit less sketchy than that, Karen, but not to my gentle readers. Yet. Sorry, but that's pretty much the way it has to be right now.

I'm really pretty psyched about this project -- and I'm just the kind of guy who'd like nothing more than to lay the whole thing out in glorious detail. But there's a small problem with that -- I hope to be able to sell the thing, and I'd prefer it not to show up as a free download somewhere before the first sale.

I mean, I'm all for open source and stuff, but this working on neat stuff from home and trying to sell it on the open market is just about all I have left now. It's just that, well, I like to explain how things work. It's, you know, what I do.

But if I do that, as much as I would absolutely love to, and as painfully difficult it is NOT to, then anybody with a Designer client and a couple of hours to spare could take my 'splainin' and do it themselves.

And it's not like it's going to take a huge amount of effort to duplicate what I'm up to anyway -- I just hope to make it somewhat less than cost-effective to do it. Okay, a lot less than cost-effective. I hope to make the license prices on these things low enough that the folks who the Indians outsource to can't do it at my rate.

This stuff will never make me rich*, but there's that whole living indoors and eating every day or two thing that I'd like to take care of. And maybe, just maybe, I can get to LotuSphere on a pilgrimmage once before I die.
*There is a very slight possibility that I could make a lot of money at this game, but I'm not hanging any hopes on it. It would be right some nice, though, if I can leave anxiety about paying the rent behind for a while.

Stan Rogers said...

Why is it that most folks get, oh, "afwtb" as the word verification thingy, and I always get something like "zkplonkitotl"?

karen said...

Okay, got it. Very exciting. Seriously.

Oh, and the word verification? They've got it programmed so that yours always displays the longest character set they make. If you listen hard enough, you might even hear muffled giggling as you're typing. "Hey guys, Stan's trying to type in that word verification we gave him!"

Anonymous said...

Once had a client, at the final presentation of a multi-database application, say: "Yeah, that's exactly what we asked for, but it's really not the way it works."

I ended up with a 3 month extention to write what really works!

Anonymous said...

I categorize customers into two categories:

1) Willing to spec it out, with me involved from the beginning, with the whole thing intelligently planned out from day one. For this, I will give an honest estimate, with modifications if needed as things progress.
2) I'll code whatever they want, modifying the specs every time we talk, usually. No estimates, paid by the hour with no limit.

If they won't fall into one of those two buckets, I refuse the job.

STAG said...

Whatcha doing new year's eve? Hot tub party at my place....


karen said...

Every time I stop by your space nowadays, Stan, I imagine the faint sounds of work going on behind the front door... the buzz of a circular saw, the pounding of a hammer... I know those aren't the tools of a developer, but it's what comes to mind anyway.

I hope your work continues to be productive and that you're feeling well. And I hope the Next Big Thing in 2006 is your thing, and that you get filthy rich off of it (while remaining ever so humble, of course).

Wishing you health, (wealth), and happiness in the New Year. And hey, happy hot tubbing at Bill's, if you go.

Stan Rogers said...

Wish I could, Karen -- an Ed the Sock hot tub affair is nothing to sneeze at. But Bill's just got himself an English wheel, and those devices and I have a long and painful history.

Will be posting the reminiscences, reflections, regrets and rejoicing tomorrow. It has been a heck of a couple of weeks, and the only "breaks" I've been taking are busman's holidays at the Lotus developerWorks fora. One thing you'll see on my list for next year is something about getting a life....

Thanks for dropping by, and if I don't see you before then, have a happy New Year.

... oh, and the word verification this time is "nxdksbjkt". I kid you not.

Jess said...

Here's wishing you a great New Year's also, Stan! I agree with Karen, who said it wonderfully, that we all wish for you that the next big thing shall be yours.

I wonder how many blog replies we'd have to write before the verification is "gynnantynyx". Someone better get a screenshot. :-)

karen said...

Oh I will SO get a screenshot if that shows up as my word verification, Jess! :-)


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